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I'm not aware of any case law affirming the fact that spousal support may resume after reduced to $0 once jurisdiction to award spousal support has been reserved. However, the California Supreme Court has ruled that in a lengthy marriage, the court must, at a minimum, reserve jurisdiction over spousal support until it can be proven that the supported spouse no longer needs support. In a lengthy marriage the court will almost always retain jurisdiction for an indefinite period of time. Whenever jurisdiction is retained by the Court, spousal support will be ordered if appropriate under the law.
In deciding whether it is appropriate, the Court will consider these factors:
In deciding whether or not to reserve jurisdiction, the primary concern, as stated above, will be the length of the marriage.
Before a motion for upward spousal support modification may be considered, (such as from $0 to something) the moving party must demonstrate either (1) the prior order, when made, was not sufficient to meet his or her reasonable needs at that time as measured by the applicable Ca Fam § 4320 factors, or (2) the reasonable cost of satisfying those needs has since increased. Having met that burden, the moving party must then prove the obligor's ability to pay increased support.
On the issue of whether the prior order satisfied "reasonable needs," the marital standard of living is only one factor that enters into the balancing process. The trial court has broad discretion in determining the spousal support issue; having considered and weighed all the applicable § 4320 factors, it may fix spousal support at an amount greater than, equal to or less than what the supported spouse may require to maintain the marital standard of living "in order to achieve a just and reasonable result under the facts and circumstances of the case." [Marriage of Smith, supra, 225 Cal.App.3d at 484-486, 274 Cal.Rptr. at 920]
(Marriage of Smith is a case that addressed increasing spousal support)
Is there any other information I can provide for you?
May I please get clarification. I am currently able to support myself and would be willing to take SS to $0, but in the case of future disability I would like the option of resuming support. My husband is retiring but has substantial assets
and has a retirement income much higher than my full time employment. Is it likely that my husband can force termination of court jurisdiction?
In a long term marriage it is rare to terminate jurisdiction over spousal support. The judge can do so, but only after considering the relevant factors:
It is unlikely to be terminated, but yes, it is possible.
Were you not awarded part of his retirement income as community property?
If he earned that pension during the marriage and you did not waive your right to the pension, you should be entitled to 50% of the community interest in the pension.
The community interest was small at the time of the divorce. He has aggregated most of retirement post separation. I am trying to decide if worth the time and money to fight termination of jurisdiction that I would only use in emergency situation.
Do you practice in Calif?
I am a member of the State Bar of California and practiced there for more than ten years but I am currently practicing in another state.
Have you ever seen SS resumed after it was reduced to $0 say in the case of illness?
At the very least, you can ask that jurisdiction be reserved due to the fact that this is a long term marriage. That does not take much effort and doesn't really cost you anything. You can simply file a declaration responding to his request to terminate and say that you want jurisdiction reserved in case unforeseen circumstances arise.
You don't need an attorney to do that.
OK thank you very much for your prompt advice. Is there a way for specifically requesting you if I need further questions answered? I will accept and sign off.
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